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Fausto Cleva (1902 - 1971)

Fausto Cleva studied music first in his home town at the Trieste Conservatory and later at the Milan Conservatory, and made his professional conducting debut at the age of seventeen at the Teatro Carcano, Milan, leading Verdi’s La traviata. He was engaged by Giulio Gatti-Casazza to be the assistant chorusmaster for the 1920–1921 season of the Metropolitan Opera, New York, the company with which he was to be closely associated for the rest of his life. He gradually worked his way up the musical hierarchy of the Metropolitan Opera, first as chorusmaster, then as assistant conductor and finally as a conductor. In addition to his work in New York during the winter months, Cleva conducted elsewhere: between 1934 and 1963 he was chief conductor of the Cincinnati Summer Opera. He appeared with the San Francisco Opera during its 1942–1943 season, and later between 1949 and 1955; and as chief conductor of the Chicago Opera Company for two years from 1944 to 1946 he helped to improve the standards of operatic performance in the city. He also toured quite extensively, conducting opera in Canada, Cuba, Italy and Sweden; and appeared with the Swedish Royal Opera at the Edinburgh Festival in 1959, directing Rigoletto. He died while conducting a performance of Gluck’s Orfeo at the Herodes Atticus Theatre in Athens, shortly after celebrating his fiftieth anniversary as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company.




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